3. Churn and Lurch

The ‘churn’ and ‘lurch’ of the title refers to the early stages of research. Over the past few weeks I have been learning how to make paper. What I am really doing is learning about my relationship with made-paper as a material - I have experienced how it behaves and misbehaves, how it feels and smells, how it conforms and rebels. Process heavily informs how I draw, so I expect the process of paper-making to somehow direct the work that comes out of it.

Previously, I had worked with bought/found/scavenged paper (including hand-made) for many years. However the qualities of own-made paper have taken me by surprise, throwing me off course and extending the time spent on the churn and lurch of not knowing my direction of travel. What I have had to do is remind myself that my practice is research based, that it is the research that holds priority and that making a product at the end of it is a minor consideration. For me, making is thinking and thinking is making. What ever comes form this is simply a record of this process.

It has turned out that my own-made paper is more greedy and grabby than I ever imagined. Expecting to work with ink, I quickly learnt that its relationship with this paper was shouty, loud and brash. The paper grabbed the ink and held it in stasis.

In the last few weeks, I have made over 30 drawings. I have discarded at least four-fifths. I have tried working differently with ink, searching out something that held a friction between stasis and movement. But each time I have failed.

In response, I have had to step back. This means letting go of where I thought I was going, where I said I was going. I have had to let go of assuming I would work with certain materials in certain ways. Instead, I have started to reconsider the signature elements of my practice: time, repetition and gesture. I have had to question why was I working with making paper? What did this direct relationship with a material process afford the work?

Now I am approaching paper afresh. I have had a small eureka moment, where something was revealed that felt it belonged to me… I am still in the churn and lurch, but the direction of travel is a little clearer…

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